Breakthrough: New High-Efficiency Solar Cell Could Be Powering Cities ‘Within Years’_Featured_, Alternative Energy Sunday, August 12th, 2012
By Rob Wile
The cells are 1.2 percent more efficient than anything on record, and up to three times as efficient as the off-the-shelf variety.
Solar Junction’s record-breaking technology was originally developed by Dr. Homan Yuen and his fellow graduate students while they were students at Stanford University in 2007.
The team found a way to stack and arrange a compound called InGaAsNSb using a process borrowed from cell phone and LED lighting industries. The process allows thin layers of the compound to be deposited so that there’s little mixing between the layers, resulting in minimal contamination of the materials.
The diagram at right shows the difference that this process makes when used as a part of Solar Junction’s technology, compared to the results that others in the field have gotten when they’ve tried similar methods but failed. The layers in Solar Junction’s solar cells are clearly defined, not mixed like in a competing cell.
Right now the company is still too early in its development for a full commercial roll-out to be cost-effective.
But Jeff Allen, Solar Junction’s Vice President of Business Development, says they could be powering cities across the nation within a few years, thanks to the cost curve of concentrated solar. Solar Junction may be more expensive upfront, but it makes up the costs with how much power it can store.
Editor’s Note: While perusing the comment section of this article at the Business Insider, one particularly insightful response caught our attention. It is an indictment of the corruptive role of government subsidies upon the solar industry. Of particular interest are the direct parallels to the present American agricultural system, and the pervasive prevalence of GMO crops as the result of massive government subsidies. We thought this comment was insightful enough to share with you, and hope that the author doesn’t mind.
Comment by Alpha Directed
(Business Insider) The problem? The solar industry itself. It’s turned into a get rich scheme and it’s slowing adoption. I know this industry VERY well and I will tell you with full authority “the” solar industry is the problem.
1) They only build to available subsidy. This means if there is ~ 25 GW of available subsidy around the world, they only want to build 24.99 GW of capacity. This means it won’t scale. The industry fights tooth and nail to keep the subsidy even though they know it can’t ever get much higher.
2) The subsidy steals from the average rate payer. Here in CA we have the multi billion dollar California Solar Inititative. What the solar industry won’t tell you is that millions of renters, poor people and others not suitable for solar pay into a fund every month so predominately well off families can get subsidized solar on their homes. Their home values go up AND they pay less to the utilities per month. This in turn will eventually force higher rates on the same people who shouldn’t be subsidizing this in the first place.
3) The new “third party” solar companies like Sungevity and Solar City are a complete rip off to the taxpayer. They take advantage of all the subsidies and the installed cost per watt actually goes UP sometimes to over $ 10 per watt. It should be going down. That’s the point of subsidy. Instead their financial engineering are closing the installed cost to explode at the taxpayers expense.
The solar industry is not what you think it is. Trust me on that.
End ALL the solar subsidies and solar will explode. Why? Because energy is the largest market in the world and a smart Entrepreuner will realize without a subsidy cap, the business is unlimited. 1,000 new solar factories would spring up around the world within 24 months. The current “scheme” will never get there.
Do not listen to the solar industry tell as it tells us “we just need more money.” Complete and utter bullsh**…